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Food For Thought

Published: March 7, 2009

Parents looking for reasons to shape up personal eating habits need look no further than their own children.

New research from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research confirms that good dietary habits start at home. “If parents are eating poorly,” says center research scientist and coauthor of the policy brief, Susan H. Babey, “chances are their kids are too.”

Findings from the California Health Interview Survey show that teens are likely to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily if their parents do so. Data revealed that parents and adolescents consume similar amounts of fast food and carbonated beverages, too.

Every day, 62 percent of California adolescents drink soda and 43 percent eat fast food, but only 38 percent eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables.

“The research shows us that one of the keys to solving the teen obesity crisis starts with parents, but we must also improve the abysmal food environments in many low-income communities,” said Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and chief executive officer of the California Endowment that funded the project. “While parents are the primary role models for their children and their behavior can positively — or negatively — influence their children’s health, it is also essential that local officials representing low-income communities work to expand access to fruits, vegetables, and other healthful foods.”

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